My son can’t say he loves me. He can’t say anything at all, actually.
It’s been two years since I sat down with parent manual, ‘What to Expect: The First Year’. Two years since the knot of anxiety first grew in the part of my heart reserved especially for my son.
Every child develops differently, I repeat to myself. He’ll be fine. My heart hurts as my eyes scan the pages. Can pull himself up to stand. May attempt to walk whilst holding onto furniture or your hand. Might even be walking on his own.
Lawrence has only now started commando crawling.
Days later we saw a doctor, and the knot of anxiety took root in my heart where it has since stayed. I had hoped after hearing our concerns we’d be reassured that his delayed development was indeed normal, and there was no cause for alarm. He’d catch up in his own time. Instead we were given the details of a paediatrician, and were set on a months-long path we couldn’t have anticipated as first-time parents. Paediatrician, physiotherapist, speech pathologist, optometrist, audiologist, developmental psychologist- a conveyor belt of childhood experts to arrive at a three word-diagnosis. Global Developmental Delay.
In the five key areas of development, my beautiful baby boy is severely limited in all five. Not walking until he was nearly two years old, not yet speaking at almost-three- that he is delayed in physical, outward ways is obvious. What is less obvious is that his ability to problem solve is impaired. That his social skills are that of a child half his age. That there is a real chance he may always be behind.
I wish I could tell you that I met my son’s diagnosis with a steely determination at all times, that I was fearless in my endeavour to get his development on par with those of other children his age. That when my son needed me most, I was the mother he deserves.
But I wasn’t. Still now at times, I’m not.
The guilt would envelop me, rendering me useless, and it is only recently I’ve pushed that burden off my shoulders. For a long time I found myself apologising to my son in my mind whenever I looked at him. Did I do something during pregnancy to cause this? I did have a soft serve that one time. I know I shouldn’t have put you in front of the television so often during infancy- but those sleepless nights for months on end exhausted me- I swear I wouldn’t have done it did I know then what I know now. Please forgive me.